Being Alexander Rossi

I am well aware that outside the state of Indiana, the Indy 500 is small potatoes. Heck, it isn’t even a skimpy order of hash browns. And I do get that. I understand when people say it is just cars going around in a circle… boring! But growing up with this as a focal point for the Sunday before Memorial Day for as long as I can remember… it becomes more than cars driving in a circle. It was a careful picking of snacks (each one got one favorite) for the race, it was helping my uncle put on a new roof on his garage while the TV was moved to a window and turned up loud so we could hear. It was his unwavering support for the RIGHT side of the Penske / Andretti battle for bragging rights. It was both my mother and aunt at different times crying when Jim Nabors sang Back Home Again in Indiana. It is seeing the same drivers year after year almost like friends you only seen annually; and cheering on the female drivers when they make it in the starting field. It is tradition more than race.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love the race and the science behind drafting, fuel conservation and twists on the nose cone. I admire the spotters so much for their ability to maintaining a cool calm voice guiding their driver through adversity and being their eyes.

The 2019 running was Sunday. Two tenths of a second was the decider between first and second. The lead changed five times in the last thirteen laps. All of the top three divers drove outstandingly. But the winner had the better car.

The second place driver, Alexander Rossi was interviewed soon after the race ended and was asked something along the lines of why didn’t you win? Looking at the race, there were lots of times he could have picked and blamed others… the driver who was down a lap yet refused to yield to the lap leaders, the horrid pit stop where mechanical failure did not allow the fuel to go into the car and more. But he said in a matter of fact voice, it came down to horsepower. There was disappointment in that statement but refusal to go any further than that. Kudos were given to the winner, but it came down to horsepower.

And that hit me. Just the way he said it (and that after the interview as over we caught a glimpse of him just putting his head down on the table). That sometimes things just happen; most of the time, things just happen and we can blame X or Y or cast aspersions at Z, but sometimes you just know… it comes down to horsepower.

And after the TV is off and the snacks are gone… I so appreciate that reminder and it is yet another reason why my Sunday before Memorial Day in 2020 is already marked busy.

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